Runner ‘Tells’ and What Warrants Bragging Rights?

Runners have tells. I’m going to get the obvious ones out of the way straight off the bat because they are like getting points for just putting your name right on the SAT’s:
runner looking good
* They tend to be lean (I’m not using skinny for a reason…lean means you have muscle, baby!)
* They can shock their friends by being able to eat like football players
* They have a ridiculous amount of shoes and athletic clothes
crammed into their closets…so much so that the ‘strays’ tend to leak into the rest of the living spaces. Shall we play who can spot the running shoe?

So duh, we’ve got stereotypical body types…of course that’s not to say one HAS to look like an Ethiopian to be a runner. But even so, find me a ‘real’ runner who’s clinically obese and we’ll chat.

But runners have other ‘tells’ in life, traits and habits. Some you can see, some you pick up on after spending some time with the person. Some take a little digging, but let’s face it, our neurosis typically bleed out eventually…

* Watch tan.
* They double lace any shoes out of habit.
Umm, what runner doesn’t harbor the fear of an untied shoe coming at the worst possible moment? Heck, any moment at all, it would cause annoyance or even *gasp* warrant interrupting a run to re-tie.
* Uncommonly familiar with the metric system. C’mon, most Americans are too lazy to brush up on the whole meters and kilometers to miles thing.
* Often know back-routes while driving. We’re really just working off of the mental road map of our running routes.
fashionable runner
* OCD in some way. Now not ALL of us actually come with an bona-fide diagnosis, but most runners have some kind of quirk…be it with numbers, having something placed a certain way, something. It can take some real Sherlock Holmes sleuthing, but if all else fails ask to see their training log.
* Shockingly ‘out for blood.’ Even the most demure runner, that kind looking and seemingly harmless girl sitting next to you, has a blood-thirsty competitor inside her. This can mean they are insanely competitive even at Chutes and Ladders, girl hates to lose. But even if it’s not board games they get all too hung up on, I’ll guarantee you that if they are laced up for a race, it’s GO time.

Not all runners will outright talk about fitness or exercise in normal conversations, they don’t have to brag on how many miles they whipped out while other people were mowing the lawn…well, not all of them anyways. Not just because some are humble, but the best ones can actually surprise you in how much they are, I think in part to ‘real’ runners there is a gap in perspective.

To one runner a short four-miler is just that, some would even be ’embarrassed’ if they had to call the workout short that day and not speak of it because they were in fact upset it was only four. It’s all relative. Another reason is that runners tend to be highly motivated and goal-driven, they reserve ‘bragging rights’ for things that even that hypercritical inner-self is proud of. A dose of that never-settling, never-happy attitude keeps us going and is a good thing. (Not so much so that you never recognize a job well done though.)

Thus, until you get the blatant, “I’m a runner” admission or they do in fact have that awesome running feat achieved they feel entitled to share, you can still spot a runner. πŸ™‚

1) What are some of your runner tells?

2) Do you fall into any of the above traits? If not, which do you differ and plead your case.

3) Do you tend to talk about your running with non-running people?

4) When do you give yourself permission to ‘brag on yourself’? Or is that not really that hard for you? πŸ˜‰

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25 thoughts on “Runner ‘Tells’ and What Warrants Bragging Rights?

  1. 1. You covered most of my tells, but I do however wear my RoadID everywhere, it’s always good to have another form of ID and emergency contacts. 2. You hit the nail on the head especially the OCD part. Kudos. 3. I have learned that non runners think we are crazy, I always get “why?” They just don’t understand. I once convinced a friend to run with me, she DROVE to the park, DROVE, she lives a quarter of a mile away, they just don’t get it. 4. I never brag, I may post race pictures on Facebook but that’s about it, unless I’m asked.

    • u get a certain number of points as a base level, yes, from there they deduct or add point depending on the answers u give πŸ™‚

  2. okay. the eating like a football player thing totally made me laugh because i remember the first time i ran a relay and everyone ordered the full HUGE salads from Cafe Rio and dominated them…i knew i had found my niche. finally a sport where it was okay to stuff your face regardless of gender all in the name of fueling and refueling;) LOVE IT. Also. I now have my watch set up to beep at each 5k mark and it has helped me learn the kilometer/mile conversions so quickly. yesterday i may or may not have been extremely proud of myself that i could now bust out the mileage with no problem…you know…the next time someone asks how far 25k is! bahaha! hope you had a fantastic weekend dear friend! and are having a great start to your Monday!

    • SCORE one for the awesome relay team u guys comprised for destroying those salads. πŸ˜‰ actually, for future relays we should establish the rule that no members of our teams can’t do that…i mean u gotta train just as hard at eating as u do running, right?? πŸ˜‰

  3. The OCD part is definitely true, along with the focus on numbers. However, I disagree on the lean/weight thing. When you’re looking at young runners who are in high school, college, fresh outta college, then yeah, most of us are lean.

    BUT… I know a lot of runners who would definitely fit into the overweight category but I still consider them real runners, especially men (the BMI system is so flawed and doesn’t account for their muscle). I have a friend who’s lost about 80 pounds and is doing 5Ks. Sure, it may take her 40-45 minutes, but we still consider her as much of a runner as someone who runs one in half the time.

    Now, being motivated- that is definitely true! Every time I’ve talked about running in a job interview, I’ve gotten the job. I think there’s just something about the personality type of someone who does distance running- it definitely shows that you’re dedicated to something tough, and I think employers like that. I can even see the personality in the young children I coach- our 9 year old distance kids have a totally different mentality than other 9 year olds I know.

    • awww, good point! but i will offer up my rebuttal here…lol: oh most def. the whole BMI thing doesn’t accurately apply to athletes or people who work out and then have the muscle factor. and then we have those ‘skinny fat’ people who get a low BMI but are unhealthy cuz they don’t workout. i do admit to making a generalization about the leaner body types because as for ur friend, i completely agree she IS a real runner, real is in the spirit like u point out about being motivated.

  4. i’m rockin a watch tan on BOTH wrists right now because my garmin is broken and only works when i wear it on my right arm. i’m a fan of those at the beach that rock the shorts/sports bra/sock tan lines. now those are some hot looks πŸ™‚

  5. Watch tan? Possibly. Thigh tan? Definitely! I’m a redhead (translates to: she who does not tan) and I have the thigh tan. Another “problem” I have relates to your 3rd point above. I’d MUCH rather buy a cute running outfit than buy a dress or pair of pants! My daughter has to regularly lead me away from the running clothes.

    • oh my gosh, i come into the same situation clothes-wise too!! for me i have to dip into my mom’s or sister’s wardrobe. πŸ™‚

  6. Haha oh God, some of my runner tells hmmmm……. watch tan/awkward shorts tan for sure. Being able to tell you how far you’ve run without looking it up because I’ve done the route so many times before. Going to bed before 10 (since I get up so early).
    The only trait I don’t fall into is the shoe laces thing because I run in vibrams or barefoot so I don’t have laces….
    I don’t talk about my running to non-running people unless they’ve brought it up. Maybe if I just ran a race and I’m limping or something and they ask what’s wrong.
    I brag to my runner friends, mostly when I feel I’ve done really well.

  7. Great post! All kinds of crazy tan lines. Watch, thigh, multiple tank top tan lines. One day I will buy the same shirt in every Color possible and maybe only have tank top line. And the pic about inside lives a girl, is one of my favorites so far. Love it!!!!

    • haha…oh yea, thigh tans as well, bust out the swimming suit and i’ll offer up u some sunglasses! πŸ˜‰ THANKS and glad u like that pic the best so far!

  8. So right on!
    I actually bought bathing suits with straps that matched my sports bra straps so at least my tan lines would match!
    I disagree with your “body type” comment but see you took it back a little.
    I am a women, 5’8′ tall and weigh well over 200 pounds. At my current weight I am clinically obese (I get that the BMI system is flawed) Since running my first race in March of 2011 after starting C25K in Nov 2010, I’ve run over 2 dozen races and that includes 6 half marathons (3 of them in 3 consecutive weeks)…if that’s not a runner….I don’t know what is πŸ™‚
    I’m constantly being told by people who are surprised that I run that “I don’t have a runner’s body”
    My body, though thick, is phenomenal and carries me places I never thought I could go. As I get more in shape and leaner, I get faster and who doesn’t love a PR? I will never have a runner’s body, but I will be a runner for life!

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